Friday, 29 January 2016

Jackie Baillie and my granny

In 2005, my grandmother was diagnosed with throat cancer. She'd just turned seventy, and in many other countries, it would have been considered bad luck, and untreatable. After a few weeks, she'd have slipped off to the other place, and we'd have mourned her and raised a glass to a life well lived. 

The dedication and humanity of the surgeons and nurses in our NHS meant that they spent their time and resources to save her life. She emerged from the Victoria Infirmary able to live a full life, and was with us for another ten years before passing, very peacefully, in her sleep. She was able to visit her local pub with my grandfather every Friday right up until she died.

The fantastic work of our NHS staff meant my gran died when I was 31, not 21. That extra ten years enriched my life beyond belief. I was able to spend time with her as an adult, to spend time with her socially, rather than as a child. I consider myself extraordinary fortunate to have not only met my grandmother - as many people in Glasgow don't - but to have had her in my life for such a long time; right into my adulthood. My abiding memory of her is the look of pure joy on her face when I would walk into the pub to see my grandparents on my way to a night out in Glasgow city centre. The love your granny has for you is different from any other sort of love. 

When she died, we all spoke in our small family of how enriching the "bonus" ten years we had were. How we had her guiding hand for a decade longer than we really had any right to. How she loved having the - second - chance to watch her grandchildren grow into adulthood, and how fortunate we were to enjoy her presence as a person. 

The people responsible for giving us that extra decade were NHS doctors and nurses who dedicate their lives to giving families across Scotland those "bonus" years. Who do their best to save lives, or - when that is impossible - to provide palliative care to those who aren't able to survive their illness. 

And that's why, today, I was disgusted beyond words by the behaviour of the Daily Mail, and by Scottish Labour's health spokesperson Jackie Baillie. 

Phillipa Whitford is an absolute hero. She spent the first part of her life studying for many years to learn all she could about human frailty and fragility, to do all she could to battle the scourge of cancer, to save the lives of those afflicted by it. She has dedicated her life to ensuring families like mine enjoy more years with those we love. 

The Daily Mail attacked Dr Whitford today for stepping into an administrative and medical emergency where cancer surgeons were in short supply over Christmas in her local hospital. Dr Whitford performed operations which would have otherwise been cancelled for shortages of staff. And for this, she received £500 per day, before tax. (As a higher-rate taxpayer, Dr Whitford would probably have taken just over £200 per day, net, for her service). 

Dr Whitford gave up her Christmas holidays to give families those "bonus" years. And for this, she was traduced by a Hitler-supporting rag, written by fascists for scum. And who was jumping up and down to help them traduce her?

Jackie Baillie, the Scottish Labour rent-a-quote. Up popped Baillie, honking furiously that it was a disgrace that Dr Whitford was "moonlighting" by saving lives to the tune of £200 per day. 

Jackie Baillie gets £58.097 per annum in salary for being a member of the Scottish parliament. The Scottish parliament sits for three days per week. Jackie Baillie, as a member of the Scottish parliament, draws £372 per sitting day  (it's substantially more than that, as I've excluded recess days). 

I know who's more valuable to Scotland's society in terms of value for money. And, deputy Baillie, I'm sorry, it's not you.

Ms Baillie has spent a great deal of energy condemning postponed operations in Scottish hospitals. It is difficult not to draw the conclusion, given her attacks on Dr Whitford for saving and extending the lives of cancer patients, that Ms Baillie would much rather have had these operations postponed so that she could then complain about the postponements and make political gain from them. 

And damn the health implications for the patients, and damn the joy that the families gain from receiving extra time with their loved ones which they would not otherwise have had. 

When one looks at Dr Whitford saving lives and enriching families, and Ms Baillie sniping, carping and honking at her for doing so, hoping to get some class of political gain from it, one can understand why Dr Whitford has a majority of more than 13.000 while Ms Baillie is hoping, in May, to remain suckling from the trough of public money as an MSP on a technicality. 

Jackie Baillie, not for the first time, is an embarrassment, a disgrace, and is not fit to represent the people of Scotland in our national parliament. 

She should have the good grace to stand down in May, and in the interim, Kezia Dugdale  might show the slightest modicum of leadership and remove her from the Scottish Labour front bench.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The smoking gun e-mail showing the sinister Stalinism of secretive Rise

While the accusations of financial shenaningans at Rise have rightly taken most of the publicity over the struggling SWP-led alliance, there has been increasing concern amongst SSP members over the increasingly controlling behaviour of the pro-Rise faction in the party's leadership. 

It is a matter, of course, of record that in an effort to ensure the destruction of the SSP was achieved, the anti-party faction on the Executive Committee subjected Rise-sceptic members to horrific bullying, harassment and abuse in order to silence them or bully them out of the party. 

Since the controversial gerrymandered National Conference vote in favour of Rise, where the support of just eighty members, many of whom had joined the SSP specifically to vote to dismantle the party, was enough to dissolve the SSP into the as-yet un-named alliance - which would definitely not be a party, and would definitely not have a leader (until it registered as a a party with the Electoral Commission, replete with leader) - the bullying has intensified. 

The Executive Committee is in crisis, and was paralysed with panic when it emerged that Pat Smith, who had perjured herself for Tommy Sheridan, had been selected as "leader" Colin Fox's running mate on the Lothians list. As has become typical of Rise's short existence, she was secretly removed from the List. But the impotence of the SSP was made clear as they realised the EC had no influence over things like this: and indeed the  only influence the SSP could exert on the "alliance" was through the small, self-selecting cabal of pro-Rise EC members. 

As they have been shunned by the anti-SSP group on the SSP EC, those who have defended the SSP against those who seek to destroy it have given up. Several EC members have walked, with some quitting the party entirely. Many members who founded the party last century have ripped up their membership cards in disgust at the treatment of pro-SSP members by a leadership faction completely out of control and having effectively suspended the constitution. 

Organisers have walked out of the party - just this week, the SSP lost its chief in North Glasgow and Clydebank. 

More resignations are set to follow next week following a scandalous conferment of powers by the EC on itself. At a closed meeting on Saturday last, January 16th, the anti-party faction succeeded in forcing through a change in the party's rules - completely bypassing the constitution - allowing it to throw out any member who did not express sufficient admiration for Rise. 

An e-mail was then sent out by a party secretary to local functionaries demanding their acquiescence to the coup. I have a copy of that e-mail in my possession. 

What this means in practice is that the anti-party group on the EC has taken it upon itself to grant itself the power to decide that anyone who "argu[es] against agreed party policy" on social media is "bringing the party into disrepute". It has given the pro-Rise secretary the right to initiate the complaint and investigate it himself, and then recommend to himself that such a member be expelled.

The only "safeguard" is that the secretary and "one other EC member" will be on the Court Farcial. But there's no agreement on who the other EC member will be. How will the other member be appointed? Will the secretary appoint the other EC member? This is a completely unconstitutional way of banning debate, taken without consultation with the membership. 

It would not surprise me if there were to be a legal challenge against the EC's assumption of power in this way. 

However - what this means in practice is that the following conversation could take place on, say, Twitter:

Person 1: Rise is by some distance the best political party in the world. The SSP were entirely right to join Rise and anyone who things otherwise is wrong and should leave the party.

Person 2: @Person1 I don't think joining Rise was the right idea for the SSP at this particular time. We should have contested the election.

Person 2 is, therefore "publicly arguing against agreed party policy". Person 1 - who could be the secretary - can now complain to himself that Person 2 is "bringing the party into disrepute". Having received his own complaint, he can decide refer the complaint to an investigative panel comprising, er, himself, and someone else he appoints from the EC. 

Person 2 would then be expelled from the SSP for expressing a view shared by the majority of the membership. 

It is a matter of little surprise that members are fleeing in their droves. 

There is growing talk of Continuity SSP candidates standing against Rise in the upcoming election (poor old Frances Curran "recoils from [such] language", bless her). It is of similarly little surprise that SSP members increasingly feel that it is in the best interests of the SSP to defeat Rise and throw out the stale old leadership which has wrecked the party. 

The SSP has lost founder members and dedicated workers as the result of the decision of a small minority of members to dissolve the party into an SWP front and stand alongside Solidarity members. It has lost intelligent leaders and experienced campaigners. 

All that is left is the stale, failed old guard which stood by helplessly while the party almost died in the wake of the Sheridan scandal (or in some cases agitated, even then, to wind the party up), and some deluded kids with absolutely no political experience outside debating societies, "safe spaces", and campaigning for Jemima to be the vice president of the student union sports society because she's, like, soooo much more popular than Cordelia. 

It's such a shame - the SSP was the only authentically working class party in Scotland. Now it's been destroyed by ego and self interest. 

The Rise types have tried to paint the SSP defenders as the David Owen to Rise's Liberal Democrats. It's rapidly becoming clear that those mounting a desperate rearguard action to keep the SSP afloat and out of the clutches of those who would destroy it for personal political and financial gain are the true defenders of working class socialist politics in Scotland.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Only the SNP can deliver independence

A very quick note.

The above is a line I've heard a lot as SNP members demand that socialists refrain from voting socialist, and ecologists refrain from voting Green, instead, giving both votes to the National party. 

Now, I've no problem at all with Nationalists explaining their policies and manifesto and outlining why, point-for-point, it's better than a socialist or Green manifesto. That's the whole point of political activism. 

But I'd urge SNP people to take a step back and realise what the sense of entitlement that many of them - and I'd qualify that by saying I've not seen that entitlement from any pre-indyref SNP activist, or any SNP elected member or candidate - display did for Scottish Labour. 

You don't have the right to every Yes vote. When you talk of "splitting the SNP vote" or "splitting the independence vote", you alienate people. The National party does not own Yes voters. I didn't spend years of my life working for independence, trudging the streets of Glasgow until the sweat dripped off me, allowing my home to be used as storage space and putting people up, to be told that I'm owned by the SNP and that my vote is your right. 

I may very well vote SNP. I think, on the whole, they have been a competent government, and I am friendly with many people in the party. I count a couple of their MPs amongst my friends, and know them to work hard in the service of our land, and of independence. I was, for a short time, a member of the SNP. (I know this, because whenever I criticise Rise, I'm reminded of it). However, I vote in Pollok, where the SNP candidate is committed to the continuation of the Soccer Act - the single biggest assault on civil rights in the history of devolution. So I may not vote SNP. 

Should I choose to vote SNP, I will do so because I consider, on the whole, the Nationalists to be worth my vote. Not because I'm guilt-tripped into it. And not because you own me or my vote.

I will not vote SNP on the List. I intend to vote Green, because I think Patrick Harvie is an asset to the independence cause, and it is important to have that cause represented by voices from more than one party. 

Having spent time on platforms with Green members, urging people to vote Yes, I certainly do not feel that my Green vote is a vote for the Union. If the Greens are Unionist sleepers, then they expended a hell of a lot of energy in their subterfutage and frankly deserve a place in Holyrood in reward for it (for the same reason, when I lived 3-up in Glasgow, I always left my windows open in the view that if a burglar put that much effort in, they deserved my collection of beer bottle labels and currency from socialist countries).

I spent months telling people on the doorsteps "a Yes vote is a vote for independence, not a vote for the SNP". I believe that still to be true. The reverse is also true - not every vote for independence must go through the SNP. 

A vote for the Green party - or even the few hundred who will vote for Rise - is no less a valid vote for independence than one for the National party. And this is not a referendum on independence. We had one 16 months ago. We lost. This is an election on who runs the devolved government. 

I saw someone on Twitter today telling a Rise activist and candidate who I know personally, and who I know to have worked tirelessly for a Yes vote, that they have no right to stand against the SNP. Now, I've no more intention of voting for Rise than I have of scooping my eyes out with a rusty teaspoon and feeding them to the Doberman next door, but this is a nonsense. 

The Greens and Rise have every right to stand for election, to seek to influence the government of Scotland for the next five years. I hope Rise do not return any MSPs, but I certainly don't doubt their legitimacy to stand for election. 

I'd make a couple of observation to the SNP zealots: the SNP has been in government for almost a decade, for over 3.000 days. We're still in the Union. The Yes campaign was faltering badly until the Greens joined, and RIC emerged. Would it have got to 45% without us? I don't believe so. 

And after two observations, perhaps one question. If the SNP is the only way to independence, will its manifesto for May contain an unconditional commitment to a referendum on the subject as it did in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011? 

I don't believe it should. In fact, I believe a new referendum without a significant change in circumstances would be an unforgivable insult to democracy and to the people of Scotland. It would be saying "ahh, you're stupid. Vote again. Vote the right way this time". 

But if there isn't a commitment to a referendum in the fifth parliament, how do you square that with the line that only a vote for the SNP to govern in the fifth parliament will bring independence?

There are no "wasted votes" if you vote for what you believe in. If you think the SNP will make the best government, vote SNP twice, and do it proudly. If you think the SNP government is best challenged from a pro-independence view with an ecologistical, left-wing tinge, vote Green. If you feel insert policy after decision made then you should vote for Rise. But don't feel ashamed of how you vote. 

Unless you vote Labour.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The price of a Rise vote is a Unionist MSP

The number of votes cast for the major parties on the List vote in Glasgow in 2011 are as follows:

SNP                  83.109
Scottish Labour 73.031
Conservatives   12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454

Let us assume that the number of votes on the List remain constant in May, and let us further assume that the National party wins every constituency in Glasgow. 

For readers who are unaware of the arithmetic of the List count, each List seat is counted as a separate entity following the conclusion of the Constituency allocation of seats and the cumulative, progressive allocation on the List. (e.g. Seat 3 is calculated only after Seat 1 and Seat 2 is allocated). The vote is calculated by dividing the number of List votes by the number of seats already won by each party, plus one. 

The count, using the 2011 figures but adjusting for the SNP taking Maryhill and Springburn, Pollok, Provan and Rutherglen would progress as follows:

Seat 1:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 73.031
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 1 is Scottish Labour

Seat 2:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 1 list seats +1 = 36.515,3
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 2 is Scottish Labour

Seat 3:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 2 list seats + 1 = 24.343,7
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 3 is Scottish Labour

Seat 4:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 3 list seats = 1 + 18.257,8
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 4 is Scottish Labour

Seat 5:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 4 list seats = 1 + 14.606,2
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 5 is Scottish Labour

Seat 6:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 5 list seats + 1 = 12.171,8
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.749
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 6 is the Conservatives

Seat 7:

SNP 83.109 / 9 constituencies + 0 list seats +1 = 8.311
Scottish Labour 73.031 / 0 constituencies + 5 list seats = 1 = 12.171,8
Conservative 12.749 / 0 constituencies + 1 list seats + 1 = 6.374,5
Scottish Greens 12.454 / 0 constituencies + 0 list seats + 1 = 12.454

The winner of Seat 7 is the Scottish Greens

So, as you can see, Patrick Harvie is back in Parliament. Hi, Patrick! Harvie is regarded by the Yes community as a positive influence in our campaign, and as an asset to the campaign, providing non-Unionist opposition to the SNP's administration of the Scottish government. 

So, what happens if *you* go out and vote for Rise. Well, if you voted for the Scottish Greens last time, and you switch your vote to Rise this time, and just two hundred and eighty-two Green voters from last time out joined you, the consequence of that, all things being equal, would be to remove Patrick Harvie from the Scottish Parliament and replace him with the runner-up from seat 7. 

The winner of Seat 7 would be Scottish Labour, bringing them up to six List seats. In the last but one election, the consequence of a single extra seat for Scottish Labour would have been Jack McConnell winning the election and carrying on as First Minister.

The occupant of the sixth place on Scottish Labour's Glasgow list is Pauline McNeill, who is expected to lose her constituency.

That is the dreadful consequences of just 283 people voting Rise: Patrick Harvie, one of Yes's greatest assets, kicked out of parliament and a sitting Unionist MSP cheating her way back into Parliament against the will of the people. 

You can make that happen if you want to. 

I shan't be.


Sadly, the good citizens of Lothian will now be unable to vote for Solidarity founding member Pat Smith, who was third on the Rise List in that fine province. Smith has been, very quietly, dropped from the List after outrage from SSP members following the revelation that she gave false evidence in the High Court on behalf of Tommy Sheridan.

Smith's selection on the List was widely believed to have been a "you're my wife now, Dave"-style slap in the face to SSP members by the furtive "Rise Team", in order to show who was in control. 

It has now backfired on Rise's shadowy leadership, with serious questions continuing to be asked about their judgement and competence. 

Smith's removal from the List was bad news that needed to be buried. Bizarrely, with the general election less than 120 days away, The Rise Team chose to attempt to drown out their secret purging of Smith with a campaign against, er, Donald Trump. 

Their increasingly bizarre behaviour, combined with the aggression of many of their, now-panicking, followers is beginning to cause serious concern about their fitness for office.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Scottish EU referendum

The National party is currently laying the ground for a split vote in the upcoming, interminable, referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union. The ideal scenario is that Scotland votes to Remain part of the bloc whilst Leave votes from the rest of the United Kingdom outweigh ours, and we are thus dragged out against our will, having been told by the Unionists for two years that the only way to remain a member of the European Union was to vote No in 2014.
This would then form the basis of a material change in the 2014 settlement, and trigger a second independence referendum, in which Scots would assert that we are indeed Better Together with bus drivers from Bohemia, window cleaners from Warsaw and milkmen from Magdeburg than we are with lords from London and dukes from Devon.
There’s only one problem with this prospectus: it’s balderdash.
The United Kingdom is a unitary state, not a federal state. We do not vote as Scots, or Cornish, or Welsh, or English. It is one voter, one vote in this referendum. Indeed, if the British have any sense at all (and they didn’t manage to hang onto their restive and most important province in 2014 by being stupid) they will move to block such a happening from taking place by refusing to count votes by region or constituency or nation, and instead declaring one single, UK-wide result.
Even if they don’t, the waters will be muddied enough. The Uncle Tams will be out in force the morning after to tell us that the good burghers of Altrincham and Sale West voted to Remain and have to Leave because the majority voted to Leave, and you don’t see them wanting independence, now, do you, so why on earth should this be a reason for Scotland to want independence, and it’s just selfish, and the whole thing’s rather petty and silly and there’ll be a border and sure what currency would you even use anyway?
We will be told that, ah, but Scots didn’t vote for Scotland to Remain in the EU, but voted for the United Kingdom to remain. You’re looking at the result of one referendum and trying to extrapolate from it the answer to an entirely different question and would you even be in Nato?
The only way, as far as I can see it, for the Scottish government to use the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union against the will of Scotland as a pretext for a second independence referendum would be if they had already, separately, previously, held their own, Scotland-only referendum on the issue (and Scots had voted, of course, to Remain). It needn’t be a binding referendum, merely an advisory one. In circumstances then where Scots had voted explicitly to Remain in the European Union, ratified that by voting for the United Kingdom to stay in, and then been dragged out anyway, such calls for a second independence referendum would be difficult in the extreme to ignore.
The remaining Unionists might boycott such an advisory referendum in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy. Good. Let them. It would mean that all broadcast media coverage of the campaign and all the debates would be between the Yes-Remain and Yes-Leave sides. It would marginalise Unionism from daily life and debate even further than it already is. It would mean that we would get a break from having to watch their gurning, Dementor-like permarage and constant, unremitting misery.
There are now only a few thousand members remaining in Unionist parties. Their number of activists is measured in the hundreds. They have lost almost all of their MPs. In May, they look as though they will lose the majority of the MSPs. They control fewer than half of Scotland’s local authorities and look set to lose control of all of them next year.
Unionism is gradually disappearing from Scotland’s day-to-day political life. A Scottish EU referendum would leave them choosing between disappearing further from mainstream political discourse, and legitimising a referendum designed to provoke a second referendum.
Gonnae dae that?
Transparency – particularly, as we have seen since May, over financial affairs – is vital if an organisation wishes to be trusted by people in post-referendum Scotland.
With that in mind, it is interesting to note the out-of-character radio silence emanating from the unrelenting self-publicists in “Rise”, the SWP-linked group which successfully perpetrated an hostile takeover of the Scottish Socialist party.
SSP members – and a growing band of former member – have been asking questions about the financial affairs and the transparency of “Rise”, which have been met with an impenetrable wall of silence from The Rise Team, as the SWP clique refers to itself (when they’re not admiringly referring to each other as “The Scottish SYRIZA”).
There are very simple questions, with very simple answers. And a party which trumpets its transparency and democracy surely won’t have any problem answering them. Yet… the silence is deafening.
Question 1: “Rise” is selling merchandise branded “Refugees Welcome”. Most people buying merchandise branded with the slogan of an organisation dedicated to helping refugees would assume that the money generated is going to either refugees, or charities assisting refugees. Is the loot raked in from punting “Refugees Welcome” merchandise going to refugees, refugee charities, or is it being pocketed by “Rise”?
Question 2: “Rise” has promised that any MSPs it has elected in May (they are currently at 0% in polls, which, if repeated in the General Election, would result in a total of 0 constituency MSPs being elected, topped up by, er, 0 MSPs from the List) will take “a workers’ wage”, giving the rest, presumably, to charity. Does the “workers’ wage” apply exclusively to remitting the overage of the Parliamentary salary, or will all income over and above the average workers’ salary, including media work, be remitted?
Question 3: As the “Scottish SYRIZA”, “Rise” types – although almost exclusively from the SWP-linked wing of the party, not the SSP wing - have taken to jet-setting around the globe to let everyone else know just how great they are. Who pays for The Rise Team to travel abroad to raise their profiles?
Question 4: Even before the takeover of the SSP by “Rise” and the decision to stand in the election, the party was grubbing around sniffing for cash. A seemingly never-ending succession of conferences and rallies were organised, with tickets at sky-high prices designed to keep out the working people the party pretends to represent. People will hope that their money goes towards an election campaign; not propping up the profits of Merchant City cocktail bars.Can “Rise” clarify whether any of money has been paid to members of The Rise Team? Will “Rise” members be given a say on whether their cash is paid to members of The Rise Team in the future?
Question 5: Despite promising SSP members before the vote on the takeover that “Rise” was “not going to be a political party”, it sneaked registration with the Electoral Commission through – as a political party – the week before Christmas. This was not necessary to stand candidates – the SSP could have registered a party description as “Rise”, ensuring that “Rise” would appear on the ballot paper, but the “Not A Party” promise wouldn’t have been torn up. It has registered a Party Leader, a sole Nominating Officer, and a Treasurer. How were the incumbents of these positions chosen? Who voted for them?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Preview of 2016

May I wish you all all the best for the upcoming year. 

It promises to be another seismic one in Scotland, the latest in a series of defining years. In 2014, we had the referendum on independence. All changed; changed utterly. We lost, of course, and independence was delayed, but it immediately became clear that it was something of a Pyrrhic victory for the London parties. 2015 was the year that would go down in history as the year the once-monolithic Scottish Labour party was smashed, forever, never to be resurrected. The political careers of some of the most hated loyalist lickspittles - Jim Murphy, Anas Sarwar, Maggie Curran, Ian Davidson - ended in humiliation and ignominy.

2016 has even more at stake. If 2014 was about realignment and 2015 about revenge, 2016 is about remaking Scotland.

It should, all things being equal, be the year that Scotland's democratic structures move firmly into the control of pro-independence organisations. For the first time, the Scottish Parliament will re-elect a majority of pro-independence deputies. 

This year, Scottish Labour will be starved of funds from a London HQ which was insulted, stupidly, by branch manager "Kez" Dugdale. With only one in five people considering voting for Scottish Labour, and unable to get their message out through posters or leaflets (in their former Glasgow heartland, they struggle to number three figures in terms of activists), their only chance of getting their message across is through Dugdale's appearances on televised debates. 

However, Dugdale comes across as a very unsympathetic figure on such debates. Shrill and bitter, with facial expressions resembling a 14-year-old who has been told they must do their homework before they go out to play, for Dugdale's TV appearances to be the only contact voters have with Scottish Labour during the election campaign is disastrous for their chances. 

20% of the vote may well be the high water mark, given the unlikeability and inexperience of their "leader". Scottish Labour will be competing with the Conservatives for second place - but their sense of arrogance and entitlement will lead them to try to fight the election against the SNP instead. 

Kezia Dugdale will be forced out as "leader" should Scottish Labour not emerge as the largest Unionist party, or should she fail to win her constituency. An explicit, personal rejection of Dugdale by her own prospective constituents will render her a lame-duck leader, vulnerable in the extreme to challenge by the Corbynite faction.

My gut feeling is that the bruising experience she is about to undergo in the next five months, coupled with the growing realisation that she is - in her own words - "not up to the job" will mean she will quit of her own accord anyway. 

Her Better Together buddy, Ruth Davidson, is also likely to go backwards both in terms of seats and votes. However, Davidson demonstrates the value of having an early career making contacts and friendships in the media instead of the Dugdale pathway of Student>Work for Student Union>Work for bitter Unionist MSP>Be bitter Unionist MSP. Davidson appears untouchable in the Scottish press regardless of how bad the electoral results were. Indeed, following the worst result in the history of the Scottish Conservatives just last May, she was praised by all quarters. It is, incidentally, a reflection on the Scottish media that so many of its contributors are Conservative supporters given only about one in ten Scots are. The over-representation of Conservatives in the Scottish media helps deflect any criticism of Davidson, who is, after all, one of their own. 

The disconnect between the electorate and the print media is such that the circulation of the Unionist newspapers is plummeting. The Daily Record, The Scotsman and The Herald are in various stages of collapse, with the latter only being kept afloat by its independence-supporting stablemates The National and the Sunday Herald. The response of the troika's journalists to the collapse of confidence in them has been humility and a recalibration of their offerings, designed to reflect the new Scotla...ah, no, it hasn't. It has been to shriek ever more loudly in rage that prospective and former readers i) don't listen to what they say; ii) don't trust what they say if they do; and iii) don't vote in the "correct" fashion. The rage-filled outbursts of Herald political editor Magnus Gardham in an ill-judged rant over Christmas, followed by the social media meltdown of his minion David Leask - who, at one point, described Gardham as "a genius" - will have done their cause no good at all. Evermore, our journionists berate the electorate from their lofty position, seemingly failing to realise that their behaviour, and, at times their open bias, is not a result of the Scottish public's contempt for them, but a cause. 

It would be little surprise, given the fine fiscal margins and the rate at which readership is collapsing, if one of our fine organs was to cease publication this year. Perhaps the most vulnerable is The Scotsman, the ironically-named Edinburgh-based paper which has resorted to giving away thousands of free copies to keep advertisers interested. Its owners, the Johnston Press, regard the paper as the jewel in its crown, but a loss of £144m may see sentimentality discarded in favour of dividends. 

Otherwise, the Mirrorisation of the Daily Record is continuing apace. Only the first few pages, and some of the sport, of the Record is now written in Glasgow. The increasingly hysterical political tone of the paper, with its strident Loyalism cloaked in a pretence of disinterested neutrality, is winning few friends and fewer readers to replace the geriatric Labour supporters which comprise the paper's core readership. While the demise of The Scotsman would be little surprise, the demise of the Record would be. However, a paper cannot fight against its target audience forever, and - just as it switched from the Tories to Labour when Scotland's political culture changed - it would be little surprise if its owners, trying to reset the paper's relationship with Scotland, quietly performed a reshuffle of its editorial staff and columnists. 

The Liberals managed to hang onto their only MP in a humiliating court case which will have cemented the grudging tradition of Liberal-voting in the Northern Islands into a contemptuous hatred of the party. They surely would have preferred it had the disgraced former Gauleiter Alistair Carmichael resigned from the Commons on the tacit understanding a Lords seat would come his way in the near future. In Orkney, they have a majority of just 868 over the National party, with the complicating factor of a second-placed independent. In Shetland, they have a majority of 3.328 over the SNP (1.617 over the second-placed Independent candidate) - but last time round, the Liberal candidate was the party leader who was, as yet, untainted by his involvement with Better Together nor his support for his disgraced colleague Carmichael. 

It seems inconceivable that the Liberals will hang onto either of these constituencies. They may return one or two MSPs on the List, but they will never play a major role in Scottish politics again, and certainly not in the new Parliament. 

Willie Rennie will lose his seat, praise be to God and the angels.

The Greens performed particularly poorly in the last Holyrood election, and despite the personal popularity of Pat Harvie, may not do overly well in this one. At the moment, there appears to be anything from 5-9 Green deputies heading to Holyrood, but my suspicion is that when they get to that polling booth and have already voted SNP on the Constituency ballot, Yes voters will waver from backing the Greens at the last minute, even if they go into the booth fully intending to vote for them. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Greens only got three MSPs. They may, however, pick up several thousand extra votes given the success of their socialist co-leader, Maggie Chapman, in a leadership contest in autumn. Disaffected Labour voters, as well as socialist voters left without a home as a result of the suicide of the SSP, may very well be tempted to go Green.

It will come as no shock to anyone when I suggest that this election will be a landslide victory for the National party. The scale of their victory could be such that the two surviving Unionist parties, Scottish Labour and the Conservatives, begin talks about an electoral pact for subsequent elections similar to that sometimes seen between the Unionist parties in the north of Ireland when they sense that they can beat a Nationalist challenger or incumbent by combining DUP and UUP votes. 

The retrenchment of voters into their Unionist/Yes camps will squeeze out the smaller parties. There will be no repeat of the Rainbow Parliament, with the only minor parties being represented being the aforementioned Greens and Liberals. Given the success of the independence referendum and its renewed public profile, this election represented the best chance of returning SSP deputies to Holyrood. The party's suicide, having chosen not to stand in this election after being infiltrated by SWP types in a rigged completely free and fair vote in which every member had their chance to vote and only bona-fide members were permitted to vote Conference vote, means that Scotland will be one of the few legislatures in Europe to have no radical Left deputies. 

The SWP's vehicle, Rise, will gain zero MSPs, mainly because nobody knows who they are and those who do don't like them. On the other side of the spectrum, the fascist Ukip will not taint Holyrood either. They've never come close to getting any elected representation (with the exception of the time the SNP's ludicrous candidate selection made the Left unable to vote for them, and let the gluttonous neo-fascist David Coburn sneak through the middle of them and the Greens) in Scotland, and the internicine warfare in the party will repel prospective voters. At any rate, the constituency Ukip seeks to appeal to - Orangemen, bigots and casual racists - are either Labour voters, councillors or MSPs in Scotland. 

With Nicola Sturgeon finally in possession of her own mandate to govern, we may see a more radical reshuffle, and - I hope - a much more radical programme for Government than we have hitherto witnessed. In the Third Parliament, the SNP was inclined to timidity given its minority status, and in the Fourth Parliament to avoid rocking the boat ahead of the independence referendum. With no such referendum in the Fifth Parliament and a comfortable majority, there can be no such excuse now. I expect a committed approach towards land and social reform, a renewed approach to Trade Union and workers' rights, and a ceaseless fight against austerity.

In Europe, the radical Left had a proud 2015. We took over the government of Greece and broadly retains the support of her people as evidenced by a second general election victory as well as the No vote in the Fiscal Referendum. We hold the balance of power in Spain and in Portugal, and briefly held it in Turkey.

2016 promises to be just as good. State elections in Germany could give Die Linke a hold on some pretty important levers ahead of the Federal elections next year. 

A general election in Ireland looks likely to leave Sinn Féin holding the balance of power, with Gerry Adams a likely candidate for Tánaiste in a Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin coalition government. The Left alliance is also polling extremely well, with both the Alliance and SF highly regarded amongst the urban electorate for its fight against water charges and the Fine Gael-Labour austerity regime. 

In Portugal, there is a presidential election which they have kindly scheduled as a birthday present to me. Previously, the presidency was not thought to have any substantial powers, until the general election last year saw Aníbal Cavaco Silva appearing to forget that i) it wasn't the Estado Novo; and ii) he isn't Salazar. Cavaco Silva, of course, was the president notorious for receiving an election result in which the conservatives lost to the Left - who had a majority in the Assembly of the Republic - and appointing a conservative prime minister anyway. In a surprise development, the Left used its majority to win a vote of No Confidence. Anyhoo, the radical Left candidate is Marisa Matias MEP, who only meets the age requirement by five years, of the Bloco de Esquerda. At present, she is polling only about 8%, but no poll has been taken since the constitutional crisis which swept the Left to power. Last year, we achieved a radical Left government. This year, we may achieve a radical Left head of State.

There are also elections in Wales, which I hope Plaid will win but Labour will win; in London, which I hope Labour will win but the Conservatives will win; in Romania, which the social democrats will win; and in America, where capitalism will win.

The Spanish constitutional crisis must also be resolved in the early part of this year: to recap, the conservatives got more seats than any other party, with Rajoy remaining acting prime minister, but with no majority. The Left, Catalan and Basque nationalists, and social democrats, which together can outvote the conservatives, will vote against him remaining president. King Philip will then appoint another president (probably Pedro Sánchez of the social democrats), who will then not have enough votes to stay in office because all the people who voted against the other guy being president will vote against him being president because he won't let them have their own countries of which they can be president. So there will be no government, and a fresh general election, producing the same result, and a fresh constitutional crisis. It's going to be rare fun.

The chaos in Madrid will see Catalunya independent by Christmas. 

Novorossija will declare independence from the fascist regime in Kiev. It will be backed by Moscow, which will not seek to reintegrate the DNR and LNR into Russia proper at this stage. 

The knock-on effect of the Spanish constitutional crisis will be that there is no prospect of Madrid being able to agree to David Cameron's renegotiations before summer, which leaves the prospect of an In/Out EU referendum bleak for this year. Which is a bit of a shame, as the prospect of Scottish Labour, yet again, out campaigning and leafleting with their Tory friends would have been the final nail in their coffin.

In sport, England will win the European Championship, Bayern Munich the European Cup, and Borussia Dortmund the Europa League. Wales will win the Six Nations. Celtic will win the Premier Division and the League Cup. Hearts will win the Scottish Cup. Hibernian will win the Second Division. Scotland will already be out of contention to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by the time 2017 comes round.